Posted: July 3, 2017 by Robert Craven
Just come back from running a Mastermind accountability group. A great group of ambitious business directors. All trying to be their best. But all frustrated by the ever-increasing complexity of things.
At the end of the day, I ask for the one action they will take. And by when. And how will we all know that they have completed the action. And got the results they are seeking. They are clear about what they will do. And that is a good thing.
I then ask, “What is your one ‘aha’ from the day, the one thing you saw or heard or felt that made you gasp?”
The group unanimously quoted me back at myself. A throwaway line that I wasn’t even aware anyone had heard, but clearly they had.
“It’s all about simplicity and focus… and flawless execution.” A simple yet powerful line.
So, why the fuss?
We seem incapable of keeping things simple. Every additional idea, app, customer, service, KPI or online platform simply makes for massive complexity. It becomes an overload. The solution is simplicity and focus. But we forget.
And then there are the words “flawless execution”. Why did they strike such a chord?
My experience is that most people are pretty rubbish at strategic thinking and planning. Too many choices, too many trade-offs and things we might lose out on if they aren’t there. It is this lack of focus, this belief that we can have and can do it all that creates the very complexity we have been trying to avoid. As a result, mediocre plans are created with bland broad goals and lots of them. The consequence is that you end up with a bugger’s muddle. Somehow simplicity and focus needs to be brought in again and again. Keep stripping down the model and creating simplicity wherever there is the merest hint of complexity. Hunt for the complex and get rid of it.
Brutal honesty is required. Radical candour. You must confront the truth and not hide behind any illusion of how it might be. Out the reality. And deal with it.
Even then, a simple system with focus is not enough. Flawless execution is the only way I can describe the necessary delivery system you need to have in place.
I look at businesses and so often I see mediocrity in the thinking and the planning and the execution.
At every level we need to up our game. But then again you could just satisfy yourself with mediocre results from a mediocre business. While you’re at it you could just live a mediocre life…